Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lola in the Heights

The Heights may be ablaze with a local arsonist, but one new restaurant has also sparked interest: Lola, the diner-style new offering from Ken Bridge of Dragon Bowl and Pink’s Pizza fame. Housed in a remodeled building at the corner of 11th and Yale, Lola meets the mid-range restaurant need for an area dominated by low-end taco shops and high-end eateries.

Upon entering, you’ll notice first that the interior of the building lacks cohesion. Like, really. A beautifully shellacked traditional wooden counter immediately draws the eye, which is then *blinded* by the surrounding fluorescent walls. When your head spins, you’ll be smacked by the industrial open metals of the front wall. It is as if Cyndi Lauper, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the father from “A Christmas Story” were unable to decide which style to use, so they compromised and each took a third. True, it’s a nice conversation piece, but it also left me wondering if the restaurant’s interior was actually completed.

The menu is similarly disjointed -- but it’s less noticeable. Breakfast items, served all day, are anchored by egg dishes (like the ubiquitous Huevos Rancheros) and a Chicken-n-Waffles plate that puts the Breakfast Klub to shame. The fruit-laden waffle is golden crisp and the chicken is expertly breaded, then fried without a mess of excess grease. The Day-After-Thanksgiving sammich falls way short, though; the turkey, stuffing, and flavorless gravy each miss the mark, leaving bites bland and mushy. But do not pass up the near-perfect French fries. Dinner items are a hodgepodge: salmon, meatloaf, and the like.

I’ve heard the gripes about the pricing, and indeed it is high for diner-style food. However, Lola is no greasy spoon. Chefs use quality ingredients and portions are huge. And it’s early, yet. I have no doubt that the menu and prices will improve with time.

In short, Lola will succeed because there are enough people that want it to. Ken Bridge has the experience and know-how to run a successful restaurant, and local Heights patrons are happy to have a novel and decently-priced addition in the ‘hood. So even though I’m not enamored of the place as is, it has the potential to become a regular stop. And that, my friends, is upside.

Lola - 1102 Yale (at 11th)

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